Conferences and Events 2014

November 13, 2013

Middle East Dialogue Conference, February 2014, Washington, DC

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This past month in Washington, DC, during the Mideast Dialogue Conference, I had the pleasure to deliver my paper: “A Sectarian Spring: The Continuing Struggles in Bahrain.” The link to my presentation is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1piwIwA05gM

As I noted in the previous blog article, the topic of Bahrain is critical to US and regional security. What is at stake is a potential Iranian-inspired insurgency dominated by Al Wefaq overthrowing the Sunnni monarchy of Hamad Al Khalifa, who is a key “non NATO ally.”  The consequences would be significant for not only the security environment but also for human rights, creating a situation similar to southern Lebanon where Shia extremism thrives while obstructing freedom and exporting terrorism globally.

This topic of the insurgency in Bahrain suffers from much misinformation, particularly due to the poor methodology underpinning current studies.  Among the chief reasons for the lack of quality analysis of Bahrain is the deficiency of the academic community’s research on the subject. This complex insurgency in Bahrain requires trained, skilled, practiced military and intelligence analysts who can elucidate the strategy, operations, objectives, and TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) of the Shia opposition.  Analyzing the Shia leadership, training, capabilities, organizational structures, lines of operations, denial and deception tactics, and phasing of operations are all critical for revealing the character of this political-military organization that differs little in substance from Hezbollah, howbeit the Bahraini version of Shia insurgency is more complex and concealed. Understanding key aspects of military science is therefore vital for analysis: planning, logistics, operations, cover, posture, orientation, environment, adaptability, and effects.

A quick examination of the leading scholars writing on this topic reveals that they lack most or all the aforesaid requisite skills and venture into this context of urban insurgency in Bahrain without direction and understanding of these critical variables or characteristics. Having a vast community of like-minded scholars, human rights activists, journalists, and other supporters who simply recycle these studies we find that error becomes accepted truth on the subject. When I discuss these issues with the scholarly community, as politely as I can, I find that many have not even studied an insurgency in depth or can give a brief explanation on the main characteristics of an insurgency.  Relying on linguistic skills these scholars follow the tongues and not the feet of the insurgents, and thus are led to believe the propaganda rather than the key events that characterize the subject.  Moreover, these academics have little concern for security, and often view the subject with contempt, and thus demonstrate a lack of humanitarianism, the very subject they claim to champion.  Attention to security issues is far more than a defense of US interests, and involves a defense against terrorist and oppressive regimes (like Iran) spreading their influence, ideas, and networks.

Adding to this problem is the fact that the military-intelligence community has not given enough attention to the home of the US Fifth Fleet. Iraq and Afghanistan have dominated our research efforts, and Africa and Latin America account for increased regional focus and studies. Also, the Arab Spring has redirected US military focus on North Africa, the Levant, and particularly Egypt, which is an important subject in its own right. Iran, Syria, Yemen, and resurgent Al Qaeda activities in Iraq also draw in many qualified military analysts. In general, Andrew Molnar’s scholarship on insurgencies and their passive resistance and crowd manipulations tactics, a scholarship that so richly contributed to the study of insurgency during the 1960s and 1970s, has been overwhelmed by population-centric COIN approaches and the analytic energies needed for countering the crises of the moment.

Military historians and military science experts could contribute significantly to our understanding of regional security if they addressed this Gulf island and it current unrest. Without a significant inclusion of the military science community and their expert analysis of insurgency, the subject of Bahrain and its unrest will remain in the murky discussions of academics who are unqualified for analyzing a conflict zone. More importantly, the strategic and tactical changes occurring in Gulf will not gain the attention they deserve.

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International Studies Association Conference,

St. Louis, MO.

8-10 November 2013

St Louis MO

11NOV2013_Scott at the Seven Gables Inn_StLouis_MO

Lisa and I were in St. Louis this past weekend, when I attended the International Studies Association Midwest Conference. The accommodations, panels, and presenters were excellent. I chaired one panel, served as a discussant on another, and presented a paper: “Diving for Pearls: The Aftermath of Protest in Bahrain.”

Since serving as a US Fulbright Scholar in Bahrain (2007-2009) the subject of Bahrain has been dear to me. The small island monarchy made international news on February 14, 2011 during its “Arab Spring.” Although Bahrain received less international attention than Egypt and Libya, the events on this Gulf island are very important for regional security and US interests. My research paper on Bahrain is, to my knowledge, the only study to analyze the strategies, tactics, and objectives of the Shia opposition. Moreover, the Western media has not given enough attention to or analysis of the Sunni population of Bahrain.

The many coffee shops, restaurants, sites, and things to do in St. Louis made this conference one of the most enjoyable that I’ve been to.

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Vietnam Experience Conference, Victoria, Texas. 

13 June 2013, Thursday

Vietnam Experience Conference

Ready to Speak

Ready or Not–Time to Speak!

It was a pleasure this past Thursday to present my paper: “Ho Chi Minh: America’s Most Capable Foe.” The audience at UHV was comprised of many Vietnam War era veterans, scholars, and others who have an interest in the subject. The discussion during the sessions was lively. Dr. Beverly Tomek and the University of Houston-Victoria did an excellent job organizing and running the conference. 

Several young scholars were present and gave excellent presentations on topics ranging from battle analysis, to psychological operations, to the Phoenix Program.

Special thanks to Mr. Steve Sherman, an expert in the field and Vietnam Veteran, for attending and providing support and a wealth of information on subjects that helped me and others. Steve’s website is outstanding. Here is the link: http://www.viet-myths.net/

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VIETNAM WAR TELE-CONFERENCE, 05 JUNE 2013, WEDNESDAY

Featured Speakers Include:

**R. J. Del Vecchio

**Phillip Jennings

**William Laurie

**Steven Sherman

**Hoi B. Tran

*Hosted by Dr. Scott Catino, Instructor, Graduate Military Studies, American Military University

martin.catino0@mycampus.apus.edu

Excellent conference and participation by faculty and students.  

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Barnes Conference pic

23 March 2013, Saturday, Barnes Graduate Student Conference, Temple University.

I was happy to participate, and Chair a panel at this conference. The panel was called “Battlefields” and had two graduate student presenters. Both students did an excellent job delivering their papers.

Steven Elliot, a Ph.D. student at Temple University, presented first, a paper on “Rethinking Twentieth Century Warfare: Infantry, Artillery, and the Mechanized Battle of Attrition.” The paper called attention to several key issues, particularly the over generalization of the term “maneuver warfare” as a distinct characteristic and change from World War I. Elliot noted the primacy of firepower and frontal assaults in World War II, and that occurring across its diverse theaters.

Scott Manning, a Master’s Degree student from American Military University, presented second. His paper, “The Battle of Falkirk (1298): A Case and Method for Making the Messy Historical Process More Accessible” was as interesting as it was informative. Manning called attention to the problems of historical methodology on the Battle of Falkirk, but in a larger sense the same problems in historical research on ancient military history.  I thought his valuable points could also have value and application in modern military studies.

Both student papers generated questions and comments from the audience, which likewise enjoyed the papers.

Kaete, Tom, and Pat, the student organizers of the conference, deserve a lot of credit for making the event a success, and for coordinating the panels, lunch, dinner and other activities.

Panel Battlefields

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South Carolina Historical Association Conference. Clinton, South Carolina.  16 March 2013

Lisa and I had a fun time at the SCHC conference this Saturday. I presented a paper on “Tribal Capabilities and Warfare: The Case of Ancient Israel.”  The paper abstract is below. One of the best aspects of the conference was to see some old friends from South Carolina, like Dr. James Farmer from the University of South Carolina Aiken, and to see the graduate students present their papers–very impressive. There were interesting papers on the Civil War, Southern Women, South Carolina history, and too many other topics to list here.  Likewise it was a pleasure to meet some new folks.

Saber and Scroll Jounral published the article this past winter, and the article is available online at: http://digitalcommons.apus.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=saberandscroll

My abstract on Tribal Capabilities:

The Old Testament history of the ancient Jewish tribes presents ample evidence for not only the study of military leadership and tactics, but also the social and cultural behaviors animating, structuring, and strengthening the military culture of these Hebrew peoples during the period of early conquest and settlement (circa 1300 B.C.). Current historical scholarship has called attention to Israel’s military leadership and war councils, flexible tactics, weaponry and emerging technology, terrain analysis–and the force capabilities and posture of Israel’s opponents (both local and regional), particularly the absence of large aggressive empires like Assyria and Babylon operating in Palestine, which emerge later in time and defeat both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, respectively.

The research methodology of the proposed paper utilizes historical analysis of primary sources to analyze an unexplored aspect of tribal warfare: “tribal capabilities.” Tribal capabilities are the unique cultural norms, values, and behaviors that shape a tribe’s ability to conduct war, and affect the conditions that determine the outcomes of war.  Tribal capabilities, in its most basic form, are the abilities of a tribe to sustain life during periods of war and thus affect the battle space.  The concept of social “capabilities” is discussed in current US military doctrine [See Manual, Field. “Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency.” Department of the Army, Washington DC (2006)].  Utilizing a study of the ancient Hebrew text [translated by Robert Young, Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (Edinburgh, n.p. 1898)], and traditional accounts of Israel’s tribal warfare such as the The Works of Flavius Josephus, the paper will assert that tribal vitality rested not only in the leadership, the heroic judges that act as champion-saviors, but also in a complementary socio-military force emanating from the population.  Leadership in depth (emerging from broad demographic groups), potent master narratives, and a vibrant military culture operationalized by a practical military art synergistic with religious practice created this “bottom up” force structuring and supporting senior military leadership. Potent tribal capabilities were therefore instrumental to the survival of ancient Israel during the period of the Judges, and by extension are critical to the structures and viability of tribal warfare in the modern era.

The significance of this study transcends historical analysis of the tribes of ancient Israel. As the United States continues to engage in asymmetrical conflicts that devolve to the tribal level of society, understanding tribal capabilities will be essential for effectively stabilizing the operational environment. The detailed case study found in the ancient Hebrew text is not comprehensive but is indeed highly informative and rich in information on the neglected subject of tribal dynamics shaping military conflict.  Understanding and influencing these tribal capabilities will be critical for military decision making in future asymmetrical conflicts in developing societies and nations.

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